What does “Spiritual” Mean? / The Protestant Work Ethic

The inescapable connection in Protestant Christianity between work, wealth, Capitalism and Spiritual success. (Separation of church and state is a myth)

Note: American Capitalism is a whole new animal!

In sharp contrast is the traditional use of “spirit, spirituality” to refer to a non-material domain:


Definition of spiritual: 

1.  of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spiritincorporeal spiritual needs  2. a. of or relating to sacred matters spiritual songs  b. ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal spiritual authority

3.     concerned with religious values

4.     related or joined in spirit our spiritual home his spiritual heir

5.     a. of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena b. of, relating to, or involving spiritualismspiritualistic

Examples of spiritual in a sentence: 1.  Doctors must consider the emotional and spiritual needs of their patients. 2. I regularly consult our pastor about spiritual matters. 3. The Romantic composers saw Beethoven as a spiritual ancestor. 4. France will always be the spiritual home of wine lovers.

Origin and Etymology of spiritual : Middle English, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French espirital, spiritual, from Late Latin spiritualis, from Latin, of breathing, of wind, from spiritus First Known Use: 14th century

The Roman Catholic view, from Catholic Encyclopedia: http:/www.catholic.org /encyclopedia

( Latin spiritus , spirare , “to breathe”; Gk. pneuma ; Fr. esprit ; Ger. Geist ). As these names show, the principle of life was often represented under the figure of a breath of air. The breath is the most obvious symptom of life, its cessation the invariable mark of death; invisible and impalpable, it stands for the unseen mysterious force behind the vital processes. Accordingly we find the word “spirit” used in several different but allied senses: (1) as signifying a living, intelligent, incorporeal being, such as the soul ; (2) as the fiery essence or breath (the Stoic pneuma ) which was supposed to be the universal vital force; (3) as signifying some refined form of bodily substance, a fluid believed to act as a medium between mind and the grosser matter of the body. The hypothesis of “spirits” in this sense was familiar to the Scholastic age, in fact down to the end of the eighteenth century, “animal spirits”, “vital spirits”, “natural spirits” were acknowledged agencies in all physiological phenomena (cf. Vesalius, Descartes, Harvey, Erasmus, Darwin, etc.) “Magnetic” spirits were employed by Mesmer in his theory in very much the same way as modern Spiritists invoke the “ether” of the physicists.

In Psychology, “spirit” is used (with the adjective “spiritual”) to denote all that belongs to our higher life of reason, art, morality, and religion as contrasted with the life of mere sense-perception and passion. The latter is intrinsically dependent on matter and conditioned by its this sense is essentially personal. Hegelianism, indeed, in its doctrines of Subjective, Objective, and Absolute Spirit, tries to maintain the categories of spiritual philosophy (freedom, self-consciousness and the like), in a Monistic framework. But such conceptions laws ; the former is characterized by freedom or the power of self-determination; “spirit” in demand the recognition of individual personality as an ultimate fact.

And a brief summary of “primitive” religion from an index of world religions. Primitive commonly refers to the lifestyle and technology of the people, and not necessarily to the people themselves.

Primitive religion is the beliefs and practices of people who lack writing and have a simple, material culture; it has existed since the beginnings of mankind. It is the religion of peoples who tried to understand and live with the terrifying and mysterious powers of nature. Primitive survival lays bare the basic character of man, because he is stripped of the material benefits that often mask our need for God.

Probably most humans throughout history have adhered to primitive religion. It is still widely practiced today in its pure form among preliterate peoples; in addition, many members of major religions (including Christianity) partake of primitive thought and practice to varying degrees.

In the West there is now a great interest in primitive religion. Many think that modern secular man needs to recover primitive man’s participation in the cycles of nature as well as his sense of the sacred. Primitive religion developed over every continent among peoples who have no contact with each other; and yet many basic similarities exist among primitive religions.

The gods are generally connected to dead ancestors. That is, they relate to the tribe or clan and support the customs that have in the past kept the group functioning. Belief is  in a large number of gods, each symbolizing an ancestor of a family, clan, village, or certain localities such as a river or a mountain. This is called henotheism, meaning close adherence to a certain god while recognizing the existence of others. Most groups do believe in one supreme, “high” God, who is the first source of all existence. But that God is usually considered too distant to be concerned with the affairs of men. The local gods are not always predictable, and spiritual practices are meant to appease their anger or to gain favors from them. (Which has carried through to modern religions to  varying degrees.)









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